Ari Respati: Agent of Change

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THERE is an old Sundanese saying “adat kakurung ku iga”, which means inborn traits never change. Hundreds of years ago when this saying was created, there were no companies or corporations, so it referred mainly to people. However, in today’s era not only do humans have traits, but companies do too.

A company is simply an organization that is built by humans with similar values and each individual ideally has the same aim or purpose and gives his or her maximum contribution. However, in reality this is not always the case. Many companies have problems with human resources who work robotically without maximum effort. Gradually, such an attitude will become like a cancer within the company and the company will eventually collapse.

Indeed, no company in the world would like to be in such a situation. Therefore, an agent of change is required. There are many types of agents in this case, the radical, the revolutionary, the moderate and the humanist.

In the case of The Residence, one of the oldest apartments in Jakarta, the agent of change is Ari Respati. His presence has changed the company’s culture, which is now more positive. “When I joined The Residence, the employees here didn’t take much interest in their work, while as we all know it is important to be able to give warm, friendly service in this kind of hospitality business,” said Ari, recalling his early days at The Residence.

He said that the employees did their jobs in a matter-of-fact way and he wanted to change that by motivating them so they would take more pride in their work and put more effort into it.

Ari, who has two children, studied the situation within the company and finally discovered that one of the reasons the staff lacked motivation was favoritism in promotions. Foreign workers have always been treated better than local workers, while local workers are just as capable. Ari saw this unfair situation as the reason the employees lacked spirit in their work.

In his opinion, no one gives their all if there is no clear purpose, no prospect of a promotion or if a company lacks vision in this field. He gradually changed the company’s policy regarding job promotions and employee welfare. “I started to limit the recruitment of foreign managers and promoted available local workers, because they are equally competent. Some are even more capable,” said Ari.

“Thank goodness this change in the company’s policy soon improved their attitude and work spirit and brought out the positive side in them. Nowadays, when I leave my office at six in the evening they often tease me by saying, *Working just half a day, are you?'” he said with a laugh.

Ari – who studied architecture at the University of Oklahoma and property/hospitality management at Arizona State University, both in the US – thought he also needed to improve the relations between the staff of The Residence and its customers. He said close relations and friendliness were important to the customers, who often stayed long and had a right to expect warm relations with those working in their environment. “I was initially regarded as some kind of dictator during my early days here,” he said with a short laugh. “I was quite authoritative back then, but with good reason. I want one day, when The Residence is back on its feet, to share the success with the whole team. It won’t be solely my achievement..”

Today, the changes are positive as the employees give better service to customers and the work ethics have also improved. Relations among the employees and between the employees and the customers are harmonious and everyone gets along like one big family.

Initially, Ari seemed to face a simple challenge: Maintain the two towers of The Residence. But it was not as simple as many people thought. One could say that he completely revamped The Residence by himself and based on his vision he is now no longer a single fighter as he is now assisted by a solid team. (Burhanuddin Abe)

The Jakarta Post, June 05, 2009

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